Cass Lake-Bena hit 12 free throws down the stretch to hand the Nevis boys basketball team its first setback of the season.

Nevis led 31-29 with 12:39 to play before the Panthers regained the lead when Dominic Fairbanks hit three free throws for a 33-31 advantage with 11:43 remaining. Cass Lake-Bena never trailed again in posting a 53-49 victory at the Tiger Arena on Saturday, Feb. 13.

The win gave Cass Lake-Bena a share of first place with the state’s No. 1-rated Class A team atop the Northland Conference standings. Cass Lake-Bena and Nevis are now 7-1 and tied for first place in the conference standings. Nevis defeated the Panthers 52-48 in another close game at Cass Lake on Jan. 21.

A pair of jumpers by Leroy Fairbanks gave Cass Lake-Bena a 4-0 lead before two 3-pointers by Derek Lindow and a 3-pointer and a jumper by Eddie Kramer put the Tigers in front 11-6 at the 13:18 mark of the first half.

Nevis would lead for most of the half as a jumper by Lindow, a layup by Joe Houchin and a 3-pointer by Ty Warrington produced a 21-17 advantage at the 3:42 mark. The Panthers closed the half with an 8-1 run as 3-pointers by Kaydin Lee and Dominic Fairbanks led to a 25-22 edge at the intermission.

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The start of the second half featured one tie and four lead changes before Cass Lake-Bena took a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

A layup by Lindow was followed by two layups and a 3-pointer by Warrington as Nevis claimed a 31-29 lead with 12:39 to play. A jumper by Warrington and a layup by Lindow helped the Tigers tie the game at 35-35 with 9:35 to go before a jumper by Dominic Fairbanks and a layup by Leroy Fairbanks gave Cass Lake-Bena the lead for good.

Lindow hit a 3-pointer to cut the gap to 39-38 with 7:34 left before a jumper by Lindow and a layup by Houchin made it 46-45 with 2:19 remaining. Jack McNamee hit four free throws to keep Nevis within 50-49 at the 1:07 mark before Cole Coss and Dominic Fairbanks combined to make three free throws to conclude the scoring and seal the win.

Lindow’s 16 points and Warrington’s 15 points led the Tigers, who fell to 8-1 on the season. McNamee had nine rebounds and four steals while Cain Mitchell contributed five rebounds, three assists and three steals for Nevis, which was coming off a 57-43 win at Nashwauk-Keewatin on Feb. 9 and was preparing for a home game against Mahnomen-Waubun on Feb. 16. Nashwauk-Keewatin was rated No. 8 and Mahnomen-Waubun was rated No. 4 in the latest state Class A poll.

Leroy Fairbanks (16), Dominic Fairbanks (15) and Lee (12) combined for 43 points as CL-B improved to 8-2 on the season.

“We fell victim to Cass Lake in what was a bit of a trap game for us after a big win at Nashwauk and another big game coming up against Mahnomen,” said Nevis head coach Scott Kramer. “We just didn’t play very well offensively with some poor shot selection and the fact that it just wasn’t a very good shooting night for us. Cass Lake was able to make some big free throws down the stretch to return the favor from our earlier conference win at their place.”

CASS LAKE-BENA: D. Fairbanks 5 5-7 16, K. Lee 4 2-3 12, T. Lee 1 1-3 3, Coss 1 2-2 4, L. Fairbanks 6 4-4 16, Sargent 0 1-2 1, Lanham 0 1-2 1. Totals: 17 (FG), 16 for 23 (FT).
NEVIS: Warrington 5 3-6 15, Lindow 6 1-3 16, Kramer 2 1-2 6, Mitchell 0 0-0 0, McNamee 1 6-7 8, Houchin 2 0-0 4, Benson 0 0-0 0. Totals: 16 (FG), 11 for 18 (FT).
Halftime: CL-B 25, Nevis 22. Three-pointers: D. Fairbanks 1, K. Lee 2, Warrington 2, Lindow 3, Kramer 1. Team fouls: CL-B 17, Nevis 15. Fouled out: K. Lee.